Friday, July 15, 2011

Post 33

A 500-Word Response* to Jonah's Suggestion: "deconstruct us"

I will admit first that I know too little about deconstruction as a literary... theme? process? phenomenom? to write 500 coherent words about the deconstruction of anything. Instead, I will twist your words, Jonah, and take them as a request for a description of our relationship and how I think it evolved. This works to our mutual benefit because this story is much more interesting than a dry literary tract.

It wasn't long into our freshmen year that I recognized you as a campus personality. We did not have much personal interaction, and yet my knowledge of you fostered a relationship of one-sided enmity. While I imagine you remained decidedly neutral toward us inhabiting the same college, I began to despise you. You became my nemesis, a fact I repeated to the annoyance of our mutual friends, who knew you as a pleasant dude.

The trouble lay in our overlapping interests. An easy example, one the bearded psychiatrist might try to unpack in greater detail, is a cappella. I tried out for the Humtones as well, and was forced to sit sullenly among a cheering audience as you clutched the microphone like a life preserver, hanging from it as though the power of your singing would sweep you away the way it had swept the girls in the audience. I was Salieri. I tried not to listen to their excited whispers. It was easy to resent you for your good looks and charm, especially when they were turned on girls I knew.

This is not to say that I spent freshman year coveting your role. My side was not without advantages. I took a secret pleasure stepping onto the Varsity practice fields, knowing that you played club soccer. I ignored the fact that you probably had no interest in sitting the bench with me: Varsity was varsity. I regret that I smirked at your stature: at 5' 8", I was in no position to laugh, and the short have enough problems without infighting. I forget which of us hooked up with Stephanie Young first, just that I felt it reflected better on me. You were a music buff, which I was quick to equate with pretension: I came to college listening exclusively to "The Sweet Escape." Probably most telling is that your relationship with Janna was fraying as mine with Thea was beginning. You made an easy target as I attempted to ingratiate myself with Thea and her friends (it should be part of the admissions info that one does not date a girl - one dates a suite).

As I grew into myself at Haverford, I dropped my Bizarro-Jonah identity. Occasionally, a pocket of jealousy would bubble up at a Mavericks show (I avoided them until my senior year, and I couldn't tell you why). I admire you for the company you keep, both its quality and quantity. My perceived rivalry is silly in retrospect: but for the housing office, we might have ended up good friends. We shared acquaintances, passions, and, if my guess is right, insecurities.

But it was not meant to be during our time at Haverford. Your dry comment on my equally dry Facebook post goes a long way toward encapsulating our relationship: we feel more comfortable out in a public, digital forum, where we can prepare our remarks and make a slightly disingenuous show of camaraderie. I'm happy where we are, Jonah, but only in comparison to where we started.


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